Joh. 3:1-21

the one who had the facts but not the understanding

A. The Dialogue

1. Nicodemus initiated the conversation v.2

a. We see you have come from God

b. We recognize the signs (miracles)

c. He made the Messianic connection but not the right kingdom connection

2. Jesus’ response corrected him v.3

a. Your eyesight is off – unless you meet this condition, you cannot see the kingdom

b. Jesus responded by stating a requirement Nicodemus was unable to meet

3. Nicodemus, like the Samaritan woman, can’t get past the physical v.4

a. his questions make it plain he’s still thinking temporally

b. shows not only his lack of understanding but also his lack of experiential knowledge of God’s truth

i. a true spiritual leader immediately spots spiritual echoes on his radar

ii. one spiritual leader consulting another should definitely have his radar on

4. Jesus clarifies what he means v.5-8

a. there is more than one sort of birth

b. works of God shouldn’t surprise you!

c. being born of the Spirit is out of your control; you can’t entirely figure it out

5. Nicodemus still isn’t convinced v.9

a. I still don’t get it!

6. Jesus mildly rebukes him v.10-21

a. You’re a teacher of Israel; you should know this stuff v.10-12

i. It’s a little strange you don’t get it even when it’s explained

ii. We’re credible witnesses; I’ve told you about things within your experience,how will you ever get it if I talk about spiritual things outside your experience

b. Here’s my connection with the OT (your knowledge base) v.13-15

i. and why you should get it

What other things could be meant by the circumcision of the heart, commanded by Moses, Deu. 10:16, promised in Deu. 30:6; by the new heart, and the new spirit, promised Eze. 36:26; by the clean heart prayed for by David, Psa. 51:10? A teacher in Israel should from hence have understood the necessity of a new and of a clean heart. Matthew Poole

c. Here’s some solid doctrine for you to sink your teeth into v.16-21

i. Let me instruct you in the reality behind the sign, the antitype of the type

ii. These are the connections between the reality of the antitype and that of human experience

B. The Strategy

1. Understand the individual’s knowledge base

a. the teacher of the Israel – a widely recognized and prominent teacher of Israel

b. not likely to have reached that “position” without a comprehensive education

2. Identify the weak link in their “doctrinal system”

a. here it was ignorance of the true spiritual nature of the covenant

b. for some it is a wrong view of Christ and his deity; failure to accept the Creation record; lack of unified view of the testaments; non-recognition of the need for an “external” savior; etc.

3. Provide a correct application of known truths

a. Pharisees knew the text but blew the application

b. The true Christian can speak confidently from personal experience coupled with doctrinal understanding

Every Sunday school teacher should be able to say, “I know what I am communicating; I have experienced what is meant by the new birth, and the love of God, and the religion which I am teaching.” Albert Barnes

4. It’s OK to take the lead in the conversation

a. Dialogue word count: 420/54/366 – total / Nicodemus (13%) / Jesus (87%)

b. Remember the particular knowledge/personality/position dynamic here

i. Nicodemus was an authority figure, not a shy seeker

ii. Jesus was responding as a master teacher to a student teacher

c. Don’t forget – we’re dealing with individuals on an individual basis


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